Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

by George Watches Things


Hannah and Her Sisters is, as all of the Woody Allen films I’ve seen are, about it’s characters. It studies them, and the interactions they have with other characters. I suppose you could call this film a romantic comedy, but only because Netflix has to market its movies somehow.

The film follows about two years in the lives of Hannah, her sisters, her husband, and her ex-husband. (Guess how many of these characters are at least somewhat neurotic.) It’s like He’s Just Not That Into You, only better and more interesting. Mickey loves Hannah, but finds Holly unbearable; Hannah is married to Elliott, who’s nuts about Lee; Lee is here and there, and has a hilariously unexplained relationship with Frederick; Holly dates an architect who asks out her best friend; I don’t even remember who Dusty is.

As with all of the Woody Allen films I’ve seen, Hannah features New York, uses New York, and is New York. It’s plot also involves a cinema that screens old movies, as does every other Woody Allen film I’ve seen. Woody Allen seems to be making love to New York and cinema right in front of our eyes. But we don’t care, because we love it.

I doubt I’ve ever seen more meticulously fleshed-out characters than here. They’re all almost perfect. The delusional hypochondriac really would react to a cancer scare as he does in the film. An aging, struggling actress would probably be that chaotic in real life. The structure of the story is also brilliant. The characters have these gatherings every now-and-then, and at those gatherings they talk about what’s happened in their life since the last one. They’re all chasing happiness. They may not know what happiness is, but that won’t stop them.

Random bit of trivia: This was one of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ first ever films.

(Hannah and Her Sisters is available now, and for a limited time only, on Netflix Instant.)